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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Winning At Customer Service

When it comes to healthcare, people only care about one thing. Speed. And cost. Okay two things. The two things people care about when it comes to their healthcare are speed and cost. And convenience. Okay. The three things people care about are speed, cost, and convenience. Apparently, pharmacy has fully embraced this concept and based its rewards system on these three tenets of healthcare.

I like to play games. 
I hate to play corporate games. 
I like to play games with corporate. 
Corporate hates when I play their games better than they do. 

Here is my proposal: Remember the other week when I said "suck at your job"? The second part of that is to wait until corporate starts a contest. Since you intentionally failed miserably at their quotas/metrics, you know how to meet them. Now that there is extra incentive for you, excel at your job. Reverse course and, instead of fighting against the flow, go with it. You won't have to do anything and you will be Most Improved! 

But I don't want to stop there. No way. I say go Balls Out to beat them at their own game. 
Corporate says to give gift cards. 
Corporate says to remind patients to call the 1-800-I-HATE-YOU number. 
Corporate says to increase Customer Service Scores.  

The solution: Become Oprah. 
Give EVERYONE a $10.00 Gift Card. 
a. 20 minutes too long to wait? Gift Card to sit quietly. 
b. On the fence about a flu shot? Gift Card to help my numbers. 
c. I need more Zostavax, Pneumo, or Tdap shots this week. Gift Cards for each one you get. 
d. Out of stock on your new e-script? Gift Card for you. 
e. Gift Card if you call the 1-800# from our waiting room. 
f. Just walking past the pharmacy? You get a Gift Card too! 
You get a gift card!
Everybody gets a Gift Card!

If "they" want us to give gift cards to reward negative behaviour, we should be able to buy a few positive votes as well, right? It is election season after all.

 I wonder how long it'll be before they decide to rethink the whole negative-reinforcement-buy-them-off-with-gift-cards concept...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Ways To Improve

Stores are often tasked with designing ways to improve their performance. Whether it is increasing script count, customer satisfaction calls, flu shot totals, or the atmosphere of their pharmacy, for some reason the stores are responsible. Even though we have District Managers and a Corporate Marketing Team, for some reason, underperforming stores must get creative ... in addition to all their other duties, like actually filling prescriptions.
The next time corporate asks for suggestions, keep these in mind.
To increase flu shots:

1. Snipers. Snipers with blow darts.
2. Impregnate the handles of the shopping carts/baskets.
3. Needles on the chairs in the waiting room.
(Note: They did not say we had to collect copays, only that we had to increase the number of flu shots administered.)
4. Mascots. You know the Liberty Tax locations that dress an employee as a Statue of Liberty during tax season? She's out of work right now so get her a Giant Syringe costume and stick her on the corner. Perfect for Halloween season too.
5. Play Hide-And-Get-Shot with the kiddos while they wait with their parents.
6. Hold their prescriptions hostage.

Little Old Lady: I'm here to pick up my prescriptions.
CP: Have you had your flu shot yet?
LOL: No. I get it at my doctor's office.
CP: I see. Would you like one today? No appointment necessary.
LOL: No, thank you. I just need my heart medication.
CP: Ok. That'll be $20.00 for the 4 of them...and a flu shot.
LOL: What?
CP: How bad do you want your heart medication?
LOL: I need it to live.
CP: A flu shot will help too.
LOL: I just need my medication.
CP: I cannot sell these to you until you agree to a flu shot.
LOL: But I'm getting one next week.
CP: I don't know that. Believe me, it's for your own good.
LOL: I'm going to have a panic attack.
CP: I guess you'd like the Xanax in your bag too then, huh? Agree to a flu shot...
LOL: But...
CP: It's just a quick prick...
LOL: But...
CP: It'll be over before you know it.
LOL: This is a shakedown.
CP: Corporate said to increase the number of flu shots we administer. They did not rule out extortion.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Grandparents Are The Spoilers

As parents we want what is best for our children. It is our obligation to be diligent when it comes to the welfare of our children. This is what we agreed to do when we signed on to become parents. We knew full well there would be trials and tribulations along the way. There would be ups and downs. What we often didn't expect however, was the grandparents. Grandparents have a unique way of undermining our best efforts as parents. Somehow they raised us and we turned out okay. At least we think so. But we want our children to be better. We want to do better for them.

As times change, each successive generation believes they have it harder than the previous one. At the same time, the previous generation believes the newer one has it better. As each generation doesn't understand the others' music, neither do they understand what it's like to be a parent in that age. 

As parents, we are in charge of disciplining our own children. We give them rules to obey in our house. When we take them out in public, we have rules there too. But at grandma's house? The same rules don't apply. Why? Because no one disciplines the nana. I've even seen that saying on cute little signs: "No one spanks the Nana." In today's family dynamic, there's the chorus of: "We can at grandma's!". While that has most often been the case, it takes on a different meaning today.

While most certainly there are grandparents who are strict with their grandchildren there are always exceptions. Another fond saying is: "Grandchildren are God's reward for not killing your own children". Some grandparents will spoil their grandchildren rotten while others want no part of dealing with the mini question fountains.

How many grandparents hand out candy like it's, well, candy? Despite our strictest rules, grandparents are often there to curry favour and spoil the little buggers. Fill them up with love and attention and all things mom doesn't allow in her house, then send them back there to their insufferable, soda-free existence. Ultimately, it is about balance. You must obey mom's and dad's rules except at nana's house where the rules don't exist and because no one spanks the nana.

...and this is what is wrong with American healthcare today.
The Parents are the Pharmacists.
The Grandparents are the Prescribers.
The Children are the Patients.
The Candy is the, well, still it's "candy".

Reread it with these characters in mind.
Despite the best efforts of the parents (pharmacists), there will continue to be grandparents (prescribers) getting away with handing out "candy" to the children (patients) because no one spanks the nana (prescribers).

Friday, September 30, 2016

Things You Don't Want to Hear From Patients During Shots

1. (moans)
2. Deeper!
3. Is it in yet?
4. It's smaller than I thought.
5. Awwwww.
6. Can I touch it?
7. Get that thing away from me.
8. Where are you going to stick that?
9. I didn't know they came in different sizes.
10. Yes! Yes! Yes!
11. My last pharmacist had a bigger needle.
12. Again!
13. Let's cuddle!
14. Of course I'll call you.
15. Just the tip, right?
16. Well that was quick.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

How To Succeed With Corporate Without Really Trying

If you want to get noticed, if you want to get recognised, if you want to be successful, remember this: do the opposite. When you read about why people leave jobs they love, one of the reasons is lack of recognition. Awards go to the Most Improved, NOT the Most Consistent. If you do your job, and do it well, you are not the type of employee corporate values. If you suck at your job then respond with marked improvement, you are a valuable asset, worthy of recognition and promotion. Seems a little backwards, eh?

Here is what I propose. Suck at your job. (Bear with me here.) 
When a new metric is introduced, suck at it. Do the worst. Strive for sub-mediocrity. Learn how to achieve the goals, but also how to NOT meet them. This will allow you to hit them harder and faster than everyone else. When the time is right, and the same few stores have excelled at hitting their targets, step in and not only meet but exceed your goals. You will receive all the praise and glory while your colleagues will be asking themselves "WTF did I do wrong here?" when they get nothing for doing their job correctly. 

It seems to have worked for a lot of colleagues and DMs I have met over my career.

Suck at your job. Just not at everything all at once. You don't want to become a DM...Then you'd be forced to host those weekly conference calls instead of blocking them out on the speakerphone.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Why Words Are Important

We all know that there are people out there for whom we need to spell out everything. This is especially true in pharmacy with regards to our labels. Hence, we have the following:
"Unwrap then insert" on suppositories.
"Uncap then inhale" on metered dose inhalers.
"Take by mouth" on liquid antibiotics for patients with ear infections.

The following conversation may or may not have actually occurred:
CP: How may I help you?
Dumb Old Guy: You filled a prescription for my dog and I don't think it's working.
CP: Okay. What seems to be the problem? Are you giving it to her according to the directions?
DOG: Well, there's the problem. It says "TAKE ONE..." on the label so I took them. I wondered how she would get better with me taking them, but that's what it said.
CP: Do you have kids?
DOG: No. Just me and my Rottweiler, Fluffy.
CP: Well that's good news. Let's keep it that way, shall we? You do have a refill on here. Let me get that ready for you and I'll make sure the label instructs you to "GIVE" it to Fluffy.
DOG: Thanks, doc.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Little Knowledge is a Bad Thing

Today's cast will include: CP, L'Intern D'Grande, A Supplicating Student, His GF, and a Dog.
Location: a pharmacy located near an institution of higher learning.

Some days I like to torture myself by getting out of my normal stores and visiting folks across the tracks. Okay, I like getting paid for OT, but I still am selective about where I work. On this day, I traveled almost an hour away to visit a college town pharmacy where my old intern had transferred. We had volleyed quite a bit of the usual banter back and forth like old times when the story of the day unfolded right before our eyes. We were in mild disbelief as we listened to the story.

LIDG: How may I help you?
ASS: My GF is visiting from out of town.
LIDG: Good for you. Not sure how you want me to help with that, but I get off work at 10 if you want to send her over.
ASS: Um...No. She left her antibiotics at home.
LIDG: Then definitely don't send her over.
ASS: Anyway, she lives a couple hours away and will have to go the weekend without them.
LIDG: Okay. And...?
ASS: Can't you give her a few to get her through the weekend?
LIDG: No. Unless...
ASS: Yes?
LIDG: ...unless you have a new prescription for them?
ASS: No.
LIDG: Then no.
ASS: So you're going to make her go all weekend without them?
LIDG: No. It kinda sounds like you are though.
ASS: "You realise you're responsible for promoting antibiotic resistance in her now, right?"
LIDG: Uh...No. She lives 2 hours away. It's Friday night. Drive there tomorrow. Drive back tomorrow. Problem solved. You should probably pick up her birth control while you're there.
ASS: She remembered that.
LIDG: Of course she did. Quick question before you sulk away.
ASS: What?
LIDG: What are you studying?
ASS: "I'm a 3rd year Med Student."
LIDG: Well that certainly explains everything. Remember to sign up for the class on how pharmacies and prescriptions work. I'm sure it's an elective, but you really need it.
CP: Impressive. Most impressive. Obi-Wan has taught you well.
LIDG: Poor little Husky is now a whipped puppy.
CP: Going to be a long, blue weekend for him.
LIDG: We can only hope that our life lesson today has taught him something he can't and won't learn in the classroom.
<laughter erupts and lasts until close>
CP: Good one!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hear Me Now And Listen To Me Later

Sans Checking Any Messages: You guys called me and I don't know why? 
CP: Did we leave a message? 
SCAM: Yes. But I didn't listen to it. You've called me 3 times. 
CP: Professional tip: I'm going to hang up now. You go back, listen to the messages and, if there is any confusion about the reason for our calls, you may then call me back. 
SCAM: Do you have prescriptions there for me? 
CP: We do. One really expensive medication. We left you 3 messages. It required prior authorization which your prescriber worked diligently to obtain. We then had to special order the item for you. 
SCAM: Why do you have it? 
CP: Your prescriber sent it to us. 
SCAM: I told them I wanted it at your other location. 
CP: Oh. See, here's what really happens. We compete with each other. If we finish all our own work, we start searching other stores' files for prescriptions they haven't yet filled. Our modus operandi at this store is to select the most expensive items from other stores so we can hit our sales goals without doing too much work; in other words, fewer prescriptions. Once we steal it, they can't fill it. That's why we called you. Sure it's called incestuous cannibalism, but we're keeping it in the phamily. It's a new way to stimulate competition for meeting metrics among the stores. 
SCAM: But I want it there. 
CP: Well, since I ordered this for you, after your prescriber and I exchanged numerous phone calls since last Friday, and left you almost as many messages, I'm going to have to ask you to pick it up here. Yeah. So if you could just swing on by and remove this from my inventory, that'd be great.